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Sainsbury's clothing line doubles food growth

Sainsbury’s clothing line Tu has continued to outpace the supermarket’s general performance, with the division reporting double-digit growth in its annual results published today.

Tu is now the seventh biggest clothing line in the UK by volume, and 12th by value.

The supermarket this morning revealed a 1.4% drop in profits to £788m for the year to March 16, although total sales excluding petrol rose 4.3%. Underlying pre-tax profits rose 6.2%, while like-for-likes rose 1.8%.

Chief executive Justin King said clothing and general merchandising had grown at more than twice the rate of food, and in February the arm reached £1bn in annual sales.

Sainsbury’s is the second supermarket to have reported this target in a month, with Tesco releasing its own figures in April.

King said Sainsbury’s milestone reflected “the investment we have made in the quality of our offer, in-store experience and non-food space”.

Women’s jeans were singled out for attention, having seen an 80% increase in sales after Sainsbury’s rolled out its ‘Denim Shop’ format.

The Gok for Tu line, which is now in its second year, also sold well.

King said: “Our strategy of offering customers high street quality and style at supermarket prices is proving to be highly successful, with sales of general merchandise and clothing growing at more than twice the rate of food. Our non-food offer builds customer loyalty - customers who buy clothing and general merchandise well as food, shop with us more frequently and spend more than those who only buy food.

“Two thirds of the UK population are still not within a 15 minute drive of our full non-food offer and only one in five of our supermarkets has a full non-food range. Future store extensions therefore present opportunities for growth in this area.”

King also tackled the issue of ethical sourcing, noting that the business was looking to “increase direct sourcing and to forge better relationships and terms with our suppliers overseas, through our offices in Shanghai, Hong Kong and most recently Bangladesh”.

King said the supermarket had “rigorous technical and ethical processes” in place.

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